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Posts from the ‘Technology’ Category

1
Jan

Technology I Loved in 2012 – #30in30

tech

Photo by me using my Nexus 7 tablet

2012 was not a very big technology year for me, at least not for new technology. This is probably good since a really good year would certainly mean I spent way too much money. I’ll share what little I did use in this post and then follow up later with more substantive posts on each technology then. Look in the Tech I Love category for these new posts. I’ve broken technology into two categories: web tools/software and hardware. Let’s start with the web tools/software. This list could be longer, but I only want to focus on the tools I actually used in my classes with students.

The most significant tool I used, and one that everyone in Maricopa will be using next fall is our new LMS – Canvas. I’m an early adopter, so I started teaching in the free version of Canvas last spring (2012). And this fall I taught in the official Maricopa version. I’m really surprised I haven’t blogged more about it, but I really like this LMS, and Instructure sure knows how to throw a party; I mean conference. Next up is Google+. We don’t have G+ turned on for our students yet in MCCCD, but a few faculty have been using it with students via personal Gmail accounts. We had our learning community students use it for blogging and sharing content for the past two semesters, and it’s worked really well. We created a circle for the class and had students posting twice weekly. Students on their own turned it into a way to communicate with each other as well. Read moreRead more

19
Dec

Online Course Redesign for Better Engagement

I like to tell people that I’ve been designing an online course that I’ve been teaching for over 10 years. I say this because I feel that there is always room for improvement, and with the ever changing landscape of technology tools and LMS tools available, a good online course should never really be “finished.” It’s just ready for the next go round. Well, this next go round, Spring 2013, the ENG102 online course is due for a major upgrade. It seems only appropriate since so many others in Maricopa are going through their own redesigns as they move courses over from Blackboard to Instructure Canvas. I made the move a year ago, but now that I’m there or here, I’m ready for some major upgrades.

So like any good instructional designer would do, I did an analysis and came up with a list. The focus of the redesign is to make the course a little more engaging. I want for students to have more video and interactive lessons and less reading of handouts and texts. And when students do read the textbook, I want to give them more guidance for reading and remembering the concepts in those chapters. Here’s a quick preview of part of my list:

courseredesign

ENG102 Redesign list made in Evernote

Read moreRead more

10
Nov

Micro-Lectures with Video and Audio Tools – eLearning Community of Practice (eLCoP)

On Friday GCC hosted the eLearning Community of Practice (eLCoP) in Maricopa. Our topic was Micro-Lectures with video and audio tools, and we had a nice lineup of GCC faculty sharing how they use micro-lectures in their classes:  Chris Nielson, Amanda Murphy, JoAnn Pell and myself. We had a great turn out with people from Gateway, GCC, PC and SMCC in attendance – 28 people in all.

The eLCoP is composed of faculty and staff dedicated to the research, discussion and dissemination of best practices for eLearning at Maricopa. eLearning includes courses taught hybrid and online, those using a college Learning Management System and learning that occurs via alternative delivery methods.  eLCoP is open to all faculty and staff who are interested in positively impacting student learning outcomes through the creation and adoption of eLearning best practices.

In our presentation we shared how we use lecture capture, screencasting, video and audio tools to create short meaningful lectures for our online and hybrid courses. This topic is also relevant to faculty teaching face-to-face who may be interested in the concept of the Flipped Classroom. Below is our timeline with all the videos and links for tools that we shared with you. If you have any questions, add them in the comments below or email any of the other presenters. Read moreRead more

8
Nov

Podcasting on the Fly with SoundCloud, Part II

Last week I posted about podcasting in the classroom using your mobile device and a really cool website called Soundcloud. You can read that post here. At the time, I couldn’t figure out where to find the RSS feed for my Soundcloud account, so I couldn’t finish the post by explaining how to make the audio posts a podcast. I just embedded the audio instead. I then took to the internet to find out how to find or get my RSS feed for Soundcloud. Turns out the podcasting feature in Souncloud is in beta, so you have to apply to take part in the program. Read more about applying and podcasting with Souncloud here.

So I applied and then Tweeted that I applied and was waiting to hopefully be able to podcast with my Soundcloud account soon. Within a few minutes I got this tweet from @SCsupport. I replied with the information and was approved right away. When I logged in to my account later that day, I could see the RSS feed icon on my profile page and my account was now ready to be a podcast.

The video below continues where I left off last time and explains how to create the podcast using this new RSS feed and the RSS feed built into Canvas. There were a few hiccups, but all in all it is a workable way to create audio on the fly with your mobile device and then quickly get it posted to your announcements in Canvas via the podcast feed. Have a look, and happy podcasting.

2
Nov

Podcasting on the Fly with Soundcloud

Whether you’re teaching online, hybrid or traditional face to face, there is always a need to communicate with your students. That communication doesn’t have to be difficult or complicated. “What kind of mic do I need? What editing program do you recommend? How do I compress the files? Can I upload media to my LMS?” These are all good questions, but it’s really not necessary to worry about these things. If you have a smart phone and a Soundcloud account, you’re ready to go. Below I walk you through the process of recording a podcast on your mobile device, where you can do a minimal amount of editing, and then embed the podcast right into a Canvas announcement.

So many of you might ask, why wouldn’t you just record audio using the built in tools in Canvas? That’s a good question. Sometimes I do, but those files are not high quality and I don’t have control over them. They’re posted where ever I create them in Canvas, but it’s either not possible or difficult to reuse those files. I have control over my Soundcloud files and they are higher quality. Also, there is one step I neglected to share with you – the ability to Add External Feed in Canvas. You can then add your SoundCloud feed directly to your Announcements in Canvas and skip the embed step. That means you can post a podcast using only your mobile phone. I haven’t tested this step yet, but when I do, I’ll let you know how it works.

Creating the Video

What I used to create the video: I used my Samsung Galaxy SIII mounted in the Case Star Octopus Tripod Stand, the Soundcloud app, the iPevo Point to View USB Camera to record the video of my phone, and Jing to record the computer screen.

iPevo Point 2 View USB Camera

iPevo Point 2 View USB Camera

Case Star Octopus Tripod Stand

Case Star Octopus Tripod Stand

 

 

24
Oct

We’re Still Not Blogging Much on Our Campus

Yep, I said it. I’m calling out GCC and their lack of initiative to get students writing for a real audience. Part of the problem lies with the lack of tools available that are supported by the college, but that’s really just an excuse. I even heard someone say yesterday that now that Blackboard is going away, she won’t be able to have her students blog any more. Well, fear not. Blogs live on, and the fact that they are not bastardized and hidden in a LMS should be liberating. For you, and the blogs. You have free reign to choose the tool that is best suited for your pedagogical need, not what is forced upon you by technology designers who probably have never taught a day in their lives. What the LMS might be pedaling is often something trying to be one tool for every need. We all know how that works out in the end. No one gets what they really need.

But there are blogs galore available for use on the web, and most are free. There are traditional blogs, micro-blogs, and micro-micro-blogs, like Twitter. You’re bound to find something to meet your needs, and all it takes is a little patience to learn the basics. I’ll be doing a workshop next week in the CTLE on Blogs for the Classroom, November 1, 1pm – 3pm in HT2-139. Join me in a discussion about using blogs for teaching and learning. There are many uses for blogs from providing content to providing students with a method to share their thoughts and writing with you and their peers. This will be both an informative and hands on workshop. To sign up go to our web page: http://www.gccaz.edu/CTLE/cal.cfm

To hold you over until then, I created a video to show you how quickly and easily you can set up a blog and start blogging today with Blogger. Blogger is available to us as part of our new Google Apps, so it’s linked to your school Gmail account. Look at all the tools that are just one click away from your email (image above). We have tools for videos, photos, wikis, websites, and blogging to name a few. We actually have two blogging tools available to us through Google, but I’ll just show you one today. Join us on Thursday more.

Setting Up a Blogger Blog for Teaching Using Maricopa Gmail

9
Oct

Benefits of Asynchronous, Direct Communication and Interaction Between Teacher and Student

I’ve been podcasting for years now, and I’ve always found the benefits of doing so in my online and hybrid courses valuable to the success of those courses. When I first started teaching hybrid and online back in 1998, I always thought there was something missing. I missed the ability to “talk” directly to my students, to point out missing points or correct behavior or provide motivation. Podcasting has allowed for me to add that back into my courses. I was just reading a journal article from the British Journal of Educational Technology where Rob Van Zanten, Simon Somogyi and Gina Curro (2010) wrote a paper that:

“explores how students interact with different types of podcasts. The study compares download and course evaluation data of a series of short-summary podcasts with full-lecture podcasts produced for the same university course. The findings show that students value full-lecture podcasts as highly as the short-summary podcasts, despite the fact that full-lecture podcasts are downloaded to a markedly lesser degree.”

This is interesting to me, as I’ve always heard that the most effective use of podcasts were to have short micro-lecture podcast and not full lectures. If you’ve always thought the same, then this article should be of interest to you.

Regardless if you go for the short-summary podcasts or the full lecture podcasts there are many benefits for including them in your courses. I could bore you with text, but why when I can demonstrate the value of a podcast. The following video describes the benefits of podcasting in the classroom.

Yes, a video can also be a podcast depending on how you distribute it. All videos on YouTube have a subscription option turning video channels into podcasts. The benefits of podcasting that I see are a bit different from Doug Saunders’ video from 2009, and I don’t have time to make a video to match his. However, audio podcasts can be just as effective, so I’m going to share a few more benefits below in an audio podcast. Feel free to make this podcast interactive by providing comments in the podcast stream.

Soundcloud, the program I used to create my podcast, provides a service called Timed comments that let your students and/or fans give you valuable feedback at specific moments throughout the podcast. You can pinpoint exactly where to leave a comment and start a conversation around it. Give it a try.

You have to sign up for a Soundcloud account before you can leave comments, but it’s quick and easy to do so.

27
Sep

Lunch & Learn 1: Engaging Students with Mobile Devices

Workshop: Wednesday, Sept. 26 at the CTLE in HT2-139
Lunch and Learn with Dr. Alisa Cooper: Engage Your Students with Mobile Devices. 11:00 am to Noon.

This workshop discussed mobile apps that can be used to engage students in the classroom, although all three web apps demonstrated can be accessed via web browser on a mobile device. Both Socrative and Piazza have native apps for both Android and Apple devices, but GoSoapBox can only be accessed on mobile devices via web browser. This method can actually be easier and quicker for students as they don’t have to download the app first to get started using the program.

During the demonstration we noticed that Socrative was problematic for some users and was overall very sluggish and slow to load pages on the mobile devices. Socrative is currently free and probably still working to polish its product before they move to a paid model. At this point, despite it’s clear usefulness, it may not be ready for prime time. It is worth giving a look at for use in the class however. Just don’t rely too heavily on it just yet. I’ve had trouble every time I use it.

GoSoapBox, a $90 per year paid for applicatoin, worked flawlessly. I guess it’s true. You get what you pay for. They have an alternate pay model where students can pay $10 per year for use instead of the teacher paying $90. Many institution will not find that model permissible at their institutions. For the most part, the features in both apps are similar, with GoSoapBox adding a “confusion barometer” in their app. “The Confusion Barometer allows students to indicate when they’ve become confused with material, or need the teacher to slow down. The teacher sees a graphical representation of the number of students who are confused at any point during class.”

There are some more subtle differences between Socrative and GoSoapBox, but both will do the job to get students engaged in your in-class lectures. I really like the ability to do “Instant Polling” in both applications. This gives you the ability to randomly ask a question verbally during class and have students answer on the device without you setting up the question in the program. You can write the question on the board or just speak it aloud, then give students an option to choose A, B, C or D or a free response answer on their device. This is great for questions that pop up last minute. My favorite feature out of both products is Socrative’s “Exit Tickets”. “Check in on your students’ understanding as they head out the door.” This pre-designed activity is already set up, so you can just instruct students to do it before they leave.

Lastly, I demo’d Piazza, a Q&A system that integrates nicely with Canvas. If you teach a class that could benefit from a place for students to hangout and ask questions and work together, Piazza is your application. Or if you find yourself saying, “if I have to answer that question one more time, I’m going to scream,” then Piazza if for you. Again this application works on a mobile device via app, but even better in a web browser. The mobile device does make it much easier to keep up with all the interaction happening on the site however. My class is not as active this semester, so once I get more use out of it, I’ll have report back about some of my favorite features. Until then take a look at all three applications below and play around with them for yourself. GoSoapBox offers a 30 day free trial and the other two are free (for now).

GoSoapBox: Instant Student Feedback App

The web-based application GoSoapBox allows teachers to gauge student understanding or confusion levels throughout a lesson, poll students and track the data for future reference. It can be used on laptops, tablets and smart phones, which sets it apart from some other clicker/student response systems. $90 per year or $10 per student per year. 30 day free trial.

 

 Socrative: Student Response System

Socrative is a smart student response system that empowers teachers to engage their classrooms through a series of educational exercises and games via smartphones, laptops, and tablets. FREE

Piazza: Online Q&A Site for Courses

Piazza is a free online gathering place where students can ask, answer, and explore 24/7, under the guidance of their instructors. With Piazza, easily answer questions, manage course materials, and track student participation. FREE

Additional Information

  • PollEverywhere is another similar application to GoSoapBox and Socrative; however, until recently their pricing model was a bit steep for individual instructors, the number of students permitted to participate was too small, and there wasn’t a mobile option for the instructor, only responses. That has since changed a bit, and I look forward to checking it out again in the future. Check out PollEverywhere’s limited comparison of similar products
20
Jul

Create Multimedia Lessons with Tegrity

This post is actually kind of funny when you think about what I’m doing. I used a screencapture program (Camtasia 8) to record of video of how to use another screencapture program (Tegrity) to create multi-media lessons. Brilliant! Anyway, I just recently upgraded my Camtasia to version 8, so I was anxious to try it out. This is a paid program that I chose to purchase years ago to help with creating lessons for my online courses. Not everyone teaching online can afford to buy their own software, so I’m glad that McGraw-Hill purchased Tegrity and now makes it available in Connect Composition 2.0. We adopted Connect with our English textbooks a few years ago, but McGraw-Hill just this summer updated the site to include this awesome lecture tool.

So the video that follows, created in Camtasia 8, shows how to get started with creating a lesson using a PowerPoint in Tegrity. Are you still following me here? No? Just watch the video then.

My first impressions of Camtasia 8 are wow! They totally revamped the program to make it even easier to use. It’s definitely worth the price to buy it. Even though we now have Tegrity, I still have uses for Camtasia.

19
Jul

Customizing My Canvas Course Part 1

I’ve been teaching in Canvas for a year now, but this fall Maricopa is officially switching over to Canvas on 9 of the 10 colleges. Remember RIO marches to the beat of their own drum. Anyway, it has been interesting to see how faculty in the district have reacted to this new change in LMS. Most seem to be happy, but others I feel are a bit intimidated by having to learn something new. It’s really not that difficult, but it will require some time to roll up you sleeves and dig in. It will be worth it.

I’m going to start posting some random videos of things I’ve done with my Canvas courses. Hopefully you’ll find something useful that you can use in your own. This first is a quick video to show how I’ve added buttons to my Canvas class for easier navigation on the home page. Also, I wanted to add a little branding and color to the class.